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About Costa Rica!

Travel Information         Highlights & General Info       Real Estate in Costa Rica

Travel Information
  Typically Costa Rica is a tropical country with two seasons;  Dry season - considered the "High Season" which is December through April.  The other; Wet season which is from May to November - usually seeing sunny mornings, with rain showers in late afternoon and evening.  In the rainy season, it is recommended that four-wheel drive vehicles be used.  Temperature in the Central Valley is spring-like all year long.  It's colder at higher altitudes in the mountains and hotter in the lowlands and along the shore.

Gateway to Costa Rica - San Jose':  Most visitors enter Coast Rica through Juan Santamaria International Airport; and at least stay overnight in this prosperous and most populated city in Costa Rica.

Tourism/Economy:  In the past, agricultural exports, like, bananas, coffee and pineapple, have been the staple of the Costa Rican economy.  Tourism has always played an ever increasing role and now it dominates the economic force.  Costa Ricans love to show off their country and greatly welcome all vacationers.

Currency:  Costa Rican money is the colon.  It floats against the dollar and can be exchanged at banks.  American dollars and major credit cards are acceptable just about everywhere.  ATM's are also available in most cities with bank offices.

Population:  The Costa Rican population is now approximately 4,000,000 people.  The official language is Spanish, but many of the people speak some English, a required course in all schools.  Costa Ricans are affectionately know as Ticos and you would be hard pressed to find a more friendly and welcoming culture.

Education:  6% of its Gross Domestic Product is required to be dedicated to education - and as a result it has a higher literacy rate (95%) than the United States.  Some post offices have computers for general use, and high speed internet connections available.

Religion:  Catholicism is the dominant religion, as it is in most of Latin America.  Nearly all major holidays are religious in nature.  The government and popular culture is secular, though still conservative.

Major Cities:  San Jose', the capital and cultural heart of Costa Rica.  Population; one million.

Entry Requirements:  You must have a valid passport.  Check with your embassy and/or airline for any changes.

Driving or Renting a Vehicle:  Rental cars are expensive, but a good way to see Costa Rica outside of San Jose'.  You should buy all the insurance offered - drivers in Costa Rica are very aggressive behind the wheel combined with unpredictable road conditions; there could be "awkward" moments.  Drive cautiously.  In rainy season, make sure you rent a four-wheel drive. 

Time Zones:  Costa Rica is Central Standard Time and one hour behind EST in the States.  It does not currently use daylight savings time.

Health:  No shots are required.  The water in the major cities of Costa Rica is safe and most hotels and restaurants offer purified tap water.  You might prefer to drink bottled water to be sure.  Costa Rica has excellent, low-cost medical care and well-qualified practitioners.  Many North Americans come to Costa Rica for cosmetic surgery or dental work.

Safety and Crime:  Considered to be a safe destination for 99% of its tourists.  It is always a good idea to exercise caution whenever one travels just as you would anywhere in the world.  The country has a low crime rate.  Most eco-adventures involve some sort of danger, so use common sense when deciding on your level of participation in these activities. 

Costa Rica's Parks & Surfing:  Parks; Much of the country is set aside forever into protected National Parks, wildlife refuges and nature reserves.  Surfing; The secret is out!  Surfing is Great here!  Those that discovered it years ago camped out on the beach and have returned to buy and rent homes and condos on the beach.


Highlights & General Information
Costa Rica occupies a territory of approximately 20,000 square miles in the southern part of Central American and includes several small islands mainly on the Pacific side.  It's a lot like the state of Florida with two very long coastlines.  It is about 70 miles wide at the narrowest part and about 200 miles long.

Costa Rica has three mountain ranges or five geographically diverse areas; Northern Central Plains, Northwest Peninsula, Tropical Lowlands on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and the Central Valley where 70% of the population reside all making up the seven provinces; Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Puntarenas, Limon and San Jose'.  Costa Rica is often compared to Switzerland and Hawaii due to its mountains and forests.  Unlike many areas of Mexico, Central and South America, Costa Rica remains beautiful and warm year-round.  This is partly due to it bordering the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and has a string of towering volcanoes on the Central Plateau.  Combine all this and you have a unique tropical paradise with 11 climatic zones.

Costa Rica is the ultimate paradise.  This small state of 50,000 square kilometers between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean has about the same size as Switzerland.  Eco-tourists and retirees praise it a lot for its abundance of fauna, flora, and many varities of trees.  The country has no military, no nuclear power plants, almost no illiteracy, lots of culture and no winter - thanks to its openness and friendliness toward foreigners and a thousand other reasons, Costa Rica is the ideal country for people who want  to retire from an active professional or business life and become a resident.

Costa Rica is the most politically stable and the richest country in Latin America. Profound changes are taking place right at this moment. The government still controls highway construction and maintenance, traffic, telecommunications, electricity and water services. Nevertheless, there are strong signs of liberalization by the current government. The traditional pillars of the export industry (such as coffee, bananas and beef) become less important little by little. Costa Rica is positioning itself as an important and ideal location for  hi-tech companies. Not only an excellent educational system (with German, English and American schools and several specialized universities), and a favorable tax system, but also the country's several duty-free zones play an important role in this process of transformation. They offer sound reasons to companies like the Swiss Schmiedheiny Group, Mercedes Benz, Intel and Microsoft to move to the "Silicon Valley of Latin America". Competent computer engineers offer their services here to foreign customers for a much lower salary than these companies would have to pay at home. Still, Costa Rica is mainly an agricultural country, but compared to other Latin American nations, it boosts much higher living standards. Forty percent of the country's territory is utilized for agriculture, chiefly coffee and bananas. Other important crops are organic vegetables, fruits, cacao, sugar cane, corn, rice, sorghum, beans, potatoes, pineapples, tobacco, cotton, and sisal hemp. The fishing industry, on the other hand, plays a rather subordinate role. Despite the great variety of mineral wealth (bauxite, copper, zinc, led, and manganese) only gold, silver and sea salt are being exploited. Electricity is produced by hydroelectric plants and is partly exported.

The Central Valley or plateau around San José has an altitude of 1,165 meters or 3,880 ft. Because of its location an almost constant temperature of 20ºC or 68ºF all year round, Costa Rica's climate is considered the healthiest climate of the world  according to a NASA research. Depending on the altitude and the region in which you are, you can find a great variety of micro-climates. Cool, wet and very green mountain ranges, where many dairy farmers have established themselves; rain forests and dry tropical forests; the wet Caribbean coast and the dry Pacific coast; and cloud forests. The highest-located hotel in Costa Rica, at 3000 m. or 9000 ft. of altitude, experiences frost almost every night. This large variety of climates is responsible for an incredible array of plants and animals -9,000 species of flowering plants, 1,200 of orchids, 850 of birds, 205 of mammals, and 376 of reptiles and amphibians

You will find Costa Rica (Spanish for "Rich Coast") between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America. With 50,000 square kilometers, it is a little bigger than Switzerland. Ten percent of the country's 4 million inhabitants live in San José, and more than half of the population lives in the Central Valley around the capital in less than 20% of the total territory. Costa Rica is a founding member of the United Nations since 1945. It has a length of about 500 km. and a width of 150 km. There are several active volcanos here: Irazú, Poás, Rincón de la Vieja and Arenal, the most active of all with eruptions every 15 minutes. The highest mountain, Cerro Chirripó stands at 3,820 m. or about 12,000 ft. high. The coastline, with its three peninsulas (Osa, Nicoya, and Papagayo) has a length of 1,800 km. About one sixth of the country's territory has been set apart for national parks or wildlife refuges (that's more than half of the inhabitable territory of Switzerland). The country also includes famous Cocos Island, which lays 500 km off the Pacific coast. Eighty percent of the population is of Spanish origin. Most of the black and mulatto populations (7%) live in or around the harbor town of Limón on the Caribbean. About 40,000 Indigenous live mostly in isolated forests. Up to this date, some 250,000 foreigners live in Costa Rica.

Real Estate in Costa Rica
Buying and owning real estate in Costa Rica is possible with almost no limitations even for non-resident aliens. Special restrictions apply to a 50-meter coastline which is of public domain and a 150-meter coastline for which one needs a management plan. The real estate business in this country lacks any kind of education requirement or regulation as its agents here don't have to pass any tests and don't have to respect any code of ethics. Therefore, it is extremely important to get in touch with a so called Buyer's Agent. He or she will safeguard the interests of the buyer exclusively.

Immigrants who stay in Costa Rica prefer the dry regions of the pacific coast and the mild districts of the central plateau around the capital city of San José. Dairy farmers who came from Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany settled in the higher and cooler areas of the mountains. Preferred residential districts in San José are Rohrmoser, Los Yoses and Cariari. The preferred suburbs are Escazú, Santa Ana and La Garita. Of all beaches the most famous and exclusives are Flamingo, Conchal and Herradura, because of their five-star hotels, luxury condos, big golf courses and marinas, and high-class residential subdivisions with any luxury imaginable. But along the country's 1,800-km. coastline you can find endless untouched beaches, not to mention the mountains. For US$100,000-200,000 one can buy farms of 100 acres or more.